Health Minister Edwin Poots has commended the dedication and commitment to the welfare of children, shown by staff at the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice in Newtownabbey.
The Minister was speaking as he visited the Children’s Hospice at Horizon House on Wednesday, February 15. The purpose-built facility comprises a ten-bed unit with accommodation for up to six accompanying families. Both respite and palliative care for children is provided by a nurse-led multi-disciplinary team supported by local GPs.
The Health Minister was given a tour of Horizon House, where he met with parents, children and staff, to see at first hand the services provided for life limited children and their families. He said: “The needs of life limited children vary enormously. Respite care for these children enables families to get a break from the otherwise continuous responsibility of providing care to children, many of whom have rare and complex medical conditions.”
The Minister said that good palliative and end of life care is vital to families with children with life limiting conditions.
“It means that the right care is there at the right time, in the right place, maximising people’s capacity for choice and control over where they receive care,” he said.
Minister Poots continued: “I know that most of the care and support to families who have children with complex or life limiting conditions takes place in the child’s home. That is what parents and families want, it is what children want and it is what the Hospice helps to provide. I very much value the contribution which the Children Hospice makes to providing palliative care services for people in Northern Ireland.
“This partnership between the statutory and voluntary sector is important and offers real opportunities to improve services across Northern Ireland. I remain committed to that partnership and I look to the Hospice movement to work with the HSC as we move forward. “
Edwin Poots concluded: “I commend the dedication and commitment to the welfare of children displayed by staff here at the Children’s Hospice. I also wish to pay tribute to the invaluable contribution of volunteers who give their time to work and fund-raise for palliative care.”
The NI Children’s Hospice (Horizon House) is part of the wider Northern Ireland Hospice which was established as a charity in 1981. Horizon House was established in October 2001 following a successful public fundraising campaign. Services target life limited children and their families. The Hospice offers both respite and palliative care for children. A new hospice Horizon West is also in development near Enniskillen.
The NI health service provides almost £5.5m annually in funding to hospices across Northern Ireland. This compares favourably with the funding levels in both England and Scotland.